Scotland’s 80/80 conundrum

John McGurk (Head of Scotland, CIPD) sets the scene for the CIPD Scotland Annual Conference, 1 March, Edinburgh. Join John and other expert practitioners, authors and though-leadersbook your place today.

One of the biggest drivers of the Brexit vote was anxiety amongst a wide range of UK citizens about migration from the EU. A recent report from the excellent Think Tank Centre for Cities shows that these attitudes correlated very tightly with the leave vote.

They essentially wanted to exit for the EU’s Freedom of Movement provisions which they felt had led to unacceptable impacts on their communities. Doncaster for example, the former railway town where I am headed as I write, had a crushing majority for option B, as did Hull, where I am next headed, to sit on a panel about Brexit.

My hometown Glasgow and the venue for this conference Edinburgh, voted to remain with resounding majorities. The reason is that Scotland also has a problem with migration. We can’t get enough of it. As our government explains – our ageing population means that our only hope of stabilising or growing our population is by throwing our doors open.

Furthermore, Scotland’s beautiful expanses of Highland hinterland are depopulating almost as fast as they did in the Highland clearances. In the 1840s people were marched off the land wholesale to make way for sheep. A favourite pub in my part of Glasgow invites you to pay the landowners who adopted this strategy due tribute in the gents!

Scotland’s 80/80 conundrum

Scotland is governed by the UK’s approach to migration, a declared but laughable target of tens of thousands. Here is Scotland’s problem: over the time it has taken me to remember the Blur/Oasis battle (25 years), the over-75 population (of which I will hopefully still be a member) will increase by nearly 80%. Five years later 80% will be 80 plus. The working age population however will only increase by 1%. Even worse the number of children will decline by 1.5%. The elderly will need more care and more young people to support them.The Scottish Government makes clear that even on a transitional basis Scotland could lose £5bn in GDP.  If a more restrictive approach to EU migration was applied then the government estimates we would lose double that amount.

61% of EU citizens living in Scotland are under 35, whilst for our native population just over two fifths are over. 77% of EU citizens are employed yet the employment rate for the locally born is 73%. Migrants add £34,000 per head on average and contribute about another £10,400 in revenues to our government. It’s a different story from one you will hear in many newspapers and from England which has a less ageing population but in truth it’s a reality for all of the UK.

It’s time we took the high road.

Given the importance of these issues, the CIPD are delighted that Philippe Legrain (Political Economist, Author and world expert on migration) is our opening keynote.

Hear more from John, Phillippe and a host of other experts at the CIPD Scotland Annual Conference, 1 March, Edinburgh. Book your place today.